How to Prepare for an Executive Coaching Session
How to Prepare for an Executive Coaching Session
I’ve had the pleasure of starting to work with a number of new individual Executive Coaching and Mentoring clients over the past weeks. It’s always an exciting time for both the client and for me; for them it’s a great development opportunity, as well as providing time out to self-reflect and identify how to improve their own, their teams and the organizations performance. For me, it’s interesting getting to know the client, to see what we will work on and how quickly and how much progress can be made, as well as being very rewarding.
Once the contracts are signed with the commissioning organization, I always email the Coaching client an initial Coaching form alongside any relevant Talent Assessments to help to identify their key development areas and start to increase their self-awareness. Often, we have a 3- or 4-way meeting with the individual’s Line Manager and/or HR to ensure all the Coaching objectives and subsequent interventions are aligned with the company’s vision and strategy. Of course, when I’m providing Executive Coaching to the CEO, I will sometimes meet the Chairman of the Board first. When Executive Coaching follows a 360 Feedback Review, then the results are also discussed at the first Executive Coaching session and form part of the SMART Coaching Action Plan.
Even after 18 years of providing formal Executive Coaching, I am constantly looking for ways to enhance the whole experience and create maximum ROI. On the back of some positive feedback I received last week at the end of another Executive Coaching Programme, I have updated the initial instructions I provide to each Coaching client; they can then prepare well in advance to ensure they derive maximum benefit from each Executive Coaching session and programme. Clearly, aside from the written contract with the organization, the contract with the individual Coaching client should reinforce the fact that the content of the Coaching sessions is confidential, and it should agree the level of check and challenge acceptable. Honesty and trust are crucial for the success of any Coaching programme.
So, here are 10 ways to prepare for your Executive Coaching Session:
1. Review any Feedback from your most recent 1:1s and Performance Review meetings and provide the most relevant to your Executive Coach.
3. Ensure that all key Objectives for the Executive Coaching Programme are agreed with your Line Manager and/or HR and provided to your Executive Coach in advance.
4. Don’t rush (virtually or in-person) from one important meeting to your Executive Coaching session and don’t book a meeting immediately after your meeting with your Coach; you will need time to get in to the right mindset beforehand and to reflect on the content afterwards. Sometimes the biggest ‘lightbulb moments’ occur at the door handle moment, in other words, when the Coaching client is just about to leave the room.
5. Identify the top 3 priority issues or challenges you wish to discuss and work on before each Coaching session.
6. Don’t use the Executive Coaching session as an update on operational matters and issues. Make sure that you are aware of the strategic issues you would like to discuss and work on, as well as any challenging situations, or identified and required behaviour change.
7. Be prepared to be accountable to your Executive Coach to complete your interim Coaching Assignments, (in other words, your homework!) ahead of each Coaching session to ensure that you have time to practice new techniques and imbed new behaviours.
8. Block out time in your diary in-between Executive Coaching sessions to work on your homework, learn any new techniques, practice them and imbed them in to your day to day leadership and management style. Don’t cram all the learning in to the night before your Coaching session, as you won’t be able to report back on your progress or identify any minor tweaks to your behaviour after trying out tools and techniques in real-life scenarios.
9. Be prepared to go backwards; Coaching is not a linear process. Anyone who has had Coaching for a sport, such as Tennis or Golf, will know that sometimes you have to go back to basics in order to learn new techniques, build on existing strengths and to improve.
10. The old adage of leading a horse to water, but not making them drink, is so apt during Coaching. The more you prepare for the Coaching sessions, the more you work on and practice your homework, the more benefits you will experience. Similarly, if you can create time to access any additional resources, such as online learning and books you may have been signposted to, the more progress you will make.
‘Jill is an incredibly knowledgeable coach who takes a holistic approach. She is brilliant at helping you to challenge your thinking and look at things from a different perspective. I have come away from sessions with her with some real lightbulb moments and inspiration to do things very differently.’ Head of Marketing
Stay safe, stay positive!